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Vape News In Brief: January 1st, 2018 Edition

Vape News In Brief: January 1st, 2018 Edition

Welcome to Breazy Briefs, where we take a look around the globe, searching for news, science, and the occasional tasty pop culture tidbit related to vaping and the life of vapers. Today, let's talk about…


…panic, at the Surgeon General's office. After new figures were released suggesting as many as 37 percent of high schoolers have tried vaping at least once (up from 28 percent a year earlier), the nation's top doc issued a Surgeon General's advisory warning about the need for an "all-hands-on-deck effort" to crack down on underage vaping. Such a move is rare, with just four such advisories having been issued over the last decade. In the document, Dr. Jerome Adams calls for measures to fight youth nicotine use including establishing a minimum age to purchase vapor products (none currently exists at the federal level), restricting youth access to retail locations that sell said products (the FDA moved to do this last month), and laws preventing adults from vaping in public. While the Surgeon General's office has no official regulatory powers, its advice is still influential in crafting policy.


As Altria, Marlboro's American parent company, puts the finishing touches on a deal to acquire a 35 percent stake in Juul details on the plan are starting to emerge. The Big Tobacco powerhouse will pay nearly $13 billion for its share in the cigalike upstart, valuing the company at $38 billion overall. That's more than double the $16 billion valuation Juul raised in its last funding round this summer (and about as much as Delta Airlines or the retailer Target is worth). This, despite the never-ending barrage of bad press it's faced in recent months. While the move is unpopular with many Juul employees who were drawn there specifically because of its anti-tobacco philosophy, proponents of the deal point out that Altria has decades of experience in combating negative press and navigating a complicated regulatory environment. Concessions Juul is reportedly seeking include an ad campaign where Juul coupons will be included with packs of Altria's cigarettes encouraging smokers to try switching, and "top shelf" placement in stores alongside Altria's flagship Marlboro brand. (Also, Juul employees received an average $1.3 million bonus each as part of the deal, which we imagine might help quell their pain little bit.)


Add northern Michigan to the list of regions responding to the teen vaping epidemic by installing vape detectors in school bathrooms and other campus areas where students aren't monitored via surveillance camera. While we've seen several mentions of pilot programs rolling out over the last few months, there's still little feedback available on how effective the new sensors are given the rapid rate at which vapor dissipates in the atmosphere.


Here's another look at the Surgeon General's announcement, this one useful because it includes some young adult testimonials on why they started vaping. Peer pressure seems to play as big a role as anything in getting non-smokers to start vaping, though one interesting takeaway is that even users who lament starting vaping because they've become addicted to nicotine say they'd never consider switching to smoking. A primary argument of anti-vape activists remains that vapor products cause youth who otherwise wouldn't smoke to begin using combustible cigarettes, though many actual users insist this isn't the case. Perhaps it would be more constructive to focus on the negative impact of nicotine addiction and the increasing concentration of the drug in newer products.


With more on that, here's a suggestion: maximize the benefits of vaping by making cigarettes harder to get. NYU public policy professor Mark Kleiman notes that while the fear of vapers switching to combustible tobacco seems to be misguided, more could be done to ensure that doesn't happen, while also shifting more tobacco users toward vaping products. Restricting areas where smoking is permitted while allowing adults to vape openly in more locations would make cigarettes less attractive, he notes, while increasing taxes on tobacco would lead more adults to choose vaping as a cost-effective alternative. Meanwhile, he suggests the FDA could expand its ban on the sale of certain flavored e-liquids in stores that admit minors, moving all tobacco products to age-restricted retail outlets. There's a lot more here, and this is probably one of the best clicks we've got on offer this week–check out the whole article.


California is considering a pair of bills that could have a disastrous effect on the state's brick-and-mortar vape businesses. The first, Senate Bill 38, would ban the use of cartoons in advertising vapor products. No problem there. But its sister bill, 39, would ban the sale of flavored nicotine products anywhere in the state and require out-of-state vendors to ship their products to consumers in "conspicuously marked" packaging that could only be received by  a customer age 21 or older who signs for the delivery.

According to new figures, one in nine packs of cigarettes sold in South Korea are of the heat-not-burn variety, designed to be used in a device that vaporizes tobacco. The technology has not yet been approved for sale in the US as new Juul investor Altria remains locked in a lengthy pre-market application process with the FDA.

There's always more to say about Juul. This piece is geared largely as an attack on vaping in general, and while it points out many of the shortcomings of Juul (its high nicotine model and refusal to allow users more control over their nic consumption in particular), it inadvertently makes the case for why vaping in general is far superior to continued combustible cigarette consumption.


While the US government continues to crack down on vaping, Public Health England, the British government health authority, has hired a public relations firm to conduct a year-long campaign promoting the use of vapor products. Yes, the healthcare provider of an entire country is paying for ads encouraging smokers to vape. Interestingly, the group they've tapped to run the campaign is the same one behind Juul's much-maligned marketing stateside.

We'll wrap with that for this week, but there's always more coming. Happy 2019 fellow vapers!